|Synopsis: Frank Brodie (Ron Perlman) is
woken from a nightmare by knocking at his door. Scott Davis (Mark Kiely) informs him that
a plane has gone down on San Miguel Island, and that he needs his services as a guide.
Brodie shuts the door in Daviss face. Davis enters anyway, and finds himself facing
Brodies gun. Daviss companion, Eddie Mendoza (Guillermo Rios), points his own
gun at Brodie, and the situation diffuses. When Davis asks again for Brodies help,
Brodie asks why Davis hasnt requested official assistance, making reference to
"restricted air space". Davis ignores this, telling Brodie that there are
"important people" on the island. Brodie replies simply that theyre dead
already. Davis says angrily that theyll go in without Brodies help, and he and
Eddie leave. On the island, the pilot of the downed plane (Jimy Hefner) assures his
passengers, Deutsch (Richard Fancy), a property developer, and Kelsey Cunningham
(Kimberlee Peterson), the daughter of the islands prospective purchaser, that he
sent a mayday signal, and that help will already be on its way. He then goes to get water.
On his way back, he is grabbed by something, and dragged away
. Meanwhile, an out of
practice Brodie shoots at some targets, thinking back to events that took place on San
Miguel ten years earlier
. As Davis, Tara Matthews (Roxana Zal), a medical aide, and
Stan Kovacs (Julian Sedgwick), a communications and reconnaissance expert, prepare to set
out on a boat, Brodie shows up, carrying a cache of guns. He then asks Davis who he is,
and learns that he works on "special assignment" for the man who plans to turn
the island into a resort. Brodie says grimly that the island was abandoned and put off
limits for a reason; that Davis has, in fact, been sent on a suicide mission. The captain
of the boat stops some distance from San Miguel, and the rescue party goes ashore in
rubber motorboats. At the crash site, Deutsch and Kelsey debate searching for the pilot.
At that moment there is a noise nearby, and the two see the pilot being dragged screaming
through the bushes. They panic, and run. On the beach, Kovacs sets up a base of
operations, while Brodie insists that everyone carry a gun. Tara points out a fenced-off
compound and asks Brodie what it is, but he brushes her question away. The party sets out.
Eddie finds the stripped bones of an animal; strangely, those of a gazelle; while Tara
finds what is unmistakably a human skull. Something moves nearby, and Brodie fires wildly.
Up ahead, two huge apes run from their kill, a boar; while more of the animals begin
wrecking the downed plane. Kovacs notes that the transmitter is moving. He carries out
thermal reconnaissance, reporting that he detects two moving signals then five
. Kelsey and Deutsch return to the plane, looking for a survival
kit. They become aware that they are surrounded. Kelsey fires a flare, which the rescue
party tracks. Arriving just in time, Brodie fires at the apes, killing one and frightening
the others away. He then insists that everyone set out for the beach immediately, but Tara
says that Kelsey and Deutsch are in no condition to go further. The group makes camp. Late
that night, Tara takes Eddies infra-red equipment and sets out on her own, following
a map drawn on the back of a photograph. Brodie heads her off her, but she refuses to
explain herself. The next morning, Brodie finally reveals to the others the truth about
the island, telling them of an experiment gone horribly wrong
Comments: Generally speaking, I have the list of
films I want to review for the site sorted out about a month or six weeks in advance.
Every now and then, however, a film comes along that leapfrogs the others in the queue and
demands to be reviewed immediately. Sometimes this is a film Ive been trying to see
for ages, and finally get hold of; sometimes its something topical; sometimes
its a film so bad that it simply cant wait; and sometimes---well, sometimes
the whole things as simple as the description in my cable program. Such was the case
with Primal Force, which was described thus:
"Plane crash survivors land on an isolated island,
only to find it populated by bloodthirsty mutant primates, the result of a science
experiment gone wrong."
As some of you know, life has not been particularly kind
to me lately; and quite frankly, a large dose of bloodthirsty mutant primates was exactly
what I was in the mood for. Not to mention about all I felt up to dealing with. And a
"science experiment gone wrong" was just the icing on the cake.
Primal Force opens with a helicopter shot
over water, a great deal of MTV-like editing, some ground-level Evil Dead-esque POV
shots and someone sitting bolt upright in bed after a nightmare. Great. Thirty seconds in,
and the film has already managed to tick me off mightily.
The nightmare-haver is Frank Brodie, played by Ron
Perlman. I rather like ol Ron, but Primal Force does not, to put it mildly,
feature some of his better work. Throughout, he offers us the choice of two expressions:
with sunglasses, or without. His delivery of his dialogue is equally varied. At one point
he tells Mark Kielys Scott Davis, "You ever do that to me again, and Ill
kill you", and speaks with about as much passion as if he were debating with himself
over which pair of socks to put on. As keeper of the films Deadly Secret, his Brodie
suffers suggestive flashbacks, makes ominous yet oblique references to the past, and
continually warns the others that "you dont know what youre getting
into"; does everything, in fact, but actually tell them what theyre
getting into. That is, until we reach the forty-five minute mark in this ninety-minute
movie; at which point, having no doubt glanced at his watch, he finally gets around to
explaining about those bloodthirsty mutant primates. Might have been nice if the others
had been told all that before they set out, of course, but whattya gonna do?
After some pointless flourishing of guns and a thoroughly
clichéd non-conversation between Brodie and Scott Davis, in which Oblique References fly
thick and fast, and which sets up Davis as a devil-may-care, amoral gun for hire (or tries
to; shot from certain angles, Mark Kiely looks unsettlingly like Michael Keaton, which
doesnt help), we cut to San Miguel Island to meet some more Primate Bait.
Theres the pilot of the downed plane (credited as "the pilot" and played
by a Mexican actor, so hes not long for this world), a sweaty businessman
type named Deutsch, and Ms Kelsey Cunningham, daughter of the unseen oil magnate with the
rather unlikely plan of turning this frankly unattractive island into a luxury resort. The
first three words out of Ms Cunninghams mouth in this film are "Ex-cuse
me!" and "Hel-lo!" It isnt everyone who could have their
audience fantasising about their lingering, bloody death after only three words of
dialogue, but Ms Cunningham manages it.
"The pilot" goes for water, and we get our first
look at the islands population of bloodthirsty mutant primates, shown
disappointingly early. They are clearly baboons. "The pilot" makes it only a
short way from the river where he has been collecting water, before he is attacked by a
rampaging POV shot.
After a few more flashback-filled moments with Brodie, we
are introduced to the rest of our cannon-fodder: Tara Matthews, an attractive young
American who has been "assisting the village doctor"; and Stan Kovacs, all-round
electronics expert. The captain of the boat, looking like he cant wait to get his
passengers to the island so that he can take off again in a superstitious panic, leaving
them stranded with only a two-person life-raft between the six of them, urges Davis to get
underway. At that moment, surprise, Brodie drops in carrying a huge bag full of guns. On
the way to the island, he chooses to tell Davis that hes been "sent on a
suicide mission", but refrains from saying anything even slightly helpful; like, for
instance, "that islands covered with bloodthirsty mutant primates". Our
four, uh, "heroes" make it to shore, and then its time for the fun and
games to begin.
Okay, as youve doubtless all gathered by now, this
is very much your standard "trapped people get picked off one by one by Something
Nasty" horror film, albeit one tarted up in science fiction trappings. Since all that
most of such films are good for is the fun of picking whos going to live and
whos going to die, well, fine. Im nothing if not game. Here are my bold
Firstly, Ill go with the Bleeding Obvious. This
whole bloodthirsty mutant primate thing reeks of everyones favourite inane
storyline, the Secret Guvmint Project to create The Perfect Killing Machine. A major
cover-up has been hinted at, which would also fit this scenario.
Secondly, survivors. Well, "the pilot" is
already dead, I guess, so I got that one right. Scott Daviss offsider, Eddie, has
the misfortune to be Hispanic. Since member-of-minority-race = dead-man-waiting-to-happen,
hes a goner. Then theres Deutsch. The fact that hes gasp!
a businessman is pretty much enough to seal his fate; but hes also
tried to conceal the apes existence from his clients. And just to top it off, he
sweats a lot; so that settles that. Stan Kovacs has a British accent, which is
never a good thing in these situations. Plus, he seems to be channelling Donald Pleasence.
So Ill write him off as well.
The other four are a bit more problematic. Much as
Id like to see Ms Cunningham having her intestines slowly unspooled, there is a
suggestion that her "poor little rich girl" antics are meant to be funny, which
would make her the films Odious Comedy Relief. Since it never seems to sink in with
screenwriters that this is precisely who the audience most wants to see die, this pretty
much ensures her survival. Tara Matthews strikes me as A Girl With A Secret. Ill go
out on a limb here and guess that someone close to her her brother? was a
crusading investigative journalist (arent they all?), who went to the island to
probe that cover-up, and was Never Seen Again. Tara will both Uncover The Shocking Truth and
survive. As for the men---well, Davis has some black marks against him. He does
unscrupulous things; he works for gasp! a businessman; and he thinks
he knows better than Ron Perlman. (Hes also a king-sized jerk, but that never seems
to mean much in this context.) On the other hand, he apparently has something going with
Ms Cunningham (although oddly, she keeps calling him "Davis"; maybe they forgot
that wasnt his first name); and since we are a million miles from George Romero
Land, that alone is probably enough to save his life.
Which leaves ol Ron, the original survivor, the
raging alcoholic, the flashback king, the Man Who Cant Forget
. The tenor of
the flashbacks indicates that Ron was involved in whatever happened on San Miguel; also,
that he may have abandoned some of his companions to their fate. So Ill say that Ron
will redeem himself by sacrificing his life so that Davis, Kelsey and Tara can get away
(the two-person life-raft notwithstanding).
Right. The bets are placed. Lets play.
The first thing we learn is, I was wrong. Or rather,
premature. As Deutsch and Kelsey debate searching for "the pilot", there is a
sudden thrashing in the bushes and they see him lying on the ground, screaming,
before being dragged away by something. Again. The other two turn and run in the
opposite direction, also screaming. Meanwhile, the rescue party lands, and Kovacs sets up
his equipment on the beach. Brodie starts handing out guns, ordering the others not to
"separate from the group for any reason". They obey as you might expect,
straggling along and generally wandering off in any direction that catches their fancy.
Eddie finds the bleached bones of an animal, apparently a gazelle; while Tara discovers a
human skull that has two bullet holes in it. (Like much of this story, this is never
explained.) This is followed by a rash of flashily edited POV shots, and glimpses of
things moving through the bushes. Brodie fires wildly, triggering a heated argument
between himself and Davis. We are then given a clear look at two baboons running from
their kill, a boar; while more of the creatures are seen ransacking the downed plane. The
team then stumbles over the dead boar. Amusingly, Tara is much more upset by this than she
was by the discovery of the human skull. Kovacs carries out his "thermal
re-con", and reports ominously that whatever "they" are, there are dozens
of them. After some aimless wandering, and much distinctly unfunny whining from Kelsey,
our rescue-ees end up back where they started, at the plane. Becoming aware that something
is out there, a panicked Kelsey fires a flare gun revealing that she and Deutsch
. The others see the flare and head towards it. Brodie then storms in,
firing directly at Kelsey and Deutsch but not hitting them. Good
work. A large baboon sits obligingly on the top of the plane, waiting for Brodie to get it
in his sites. (From the exchange of eye contact, we gather that were meant to infer
that the two had "met before"
.) He does, and shoots it dead.
Davis intervenes, demanding to know whether Brodie has
"lost his mind" (eh?). The two men start facing off, exchanging Im in
charge! speeches. (Id like to think that, in context, the "alpha male"
fighting between Brodie and Davis was intended ironically; but I guess that was a piece of
texturing beyond the creative scope of the makers of Primal Force.) Brodie drops
still more Ominous Hints, saying that the apes are out there "getting
organised"; that they will try to kill the whole party "thats what
theyve been bred for". Davis waves all this aside, announcing that "unless
its related to my mission, I dont wanna hear it!" (did I say a king-sized
jerk? I was being generous), while Tara insists that neither Kelsey nor Deutsch is
in a fit state to go any further that night. How they suddenly got into such a state, when
theyve been wandering around for hours with no ill-effects, remains a mystery. (And
frankly, if either of them put half as much energy into leaving as Kelsey does into
whining, or Deutsch does into sweating, theydve been off the damn island hours
ago.) In any case, Brodie is overruled, and they all make camp for the night. Tara then
whips out a handy laptop computer with internet access (no medical kit should be without
one), and looks up some Helpful Hints about baboons. We learn that the animals are usually
two to three feet high, and weigh about fifty pounds. Why, gasps Tara, the apes theyve
seen must be five feet high and weigh a hundred pounds!
Lets pause here for a moment, and consider Primal
Forces killer apes. The early section of the film does a good job of concealing
them, with lots of swift cutting, POV shots, the occasional close-up of bloody canines.
But as the film progresses we see them way too often and way too clearly. Clearly enough
to be certain that the depiction of the apes is done primarily through a mixture of stock
footage of real baboons mixed with
You know, Primal Force is inarguably both bad and
dumb. Still, I cant quite find it within me to entirely despise a film that, in this
day and age, has the nerve (or should that be chutzpah?) to realise a troop of
mutant killer apes by - putting people in monkey suits. Really.
And that isnt even the real problem! Where the, uh,
"effects" fail most is in the scripts insistence on giant baboons,
when what we see are nothing of the kind. Director Nelson McCormick tries to get
around this with eye-height shots of something moving, and through the use of
forced perspective (think the "giant" salmon in Prophecy, and youll
be on the right track - in more ways than one), but it simply doesnt work.
Anyhoo, Taras remarks allow Brodie to start waxing
poetic about his primate adversaries. (This is where we get the dialogue quoted above,
which I chose not just because it does as well as anything else in this silly film, but
because Ron Perlmans delivery of the lines "The Egyptians worshipped them for
their intelligence the Greeks just called them Evil
me off into a loud chorus of "Bad Bad Leroy Brown".) He observes reminiscently
that the apes wont stop "because they cant. Theyll
try to divert us split us up pick off the stragglers
." Which is
all well and good, but you cant help wondering why, if there are so many of the damn
things, they dont just rush this handful of puny humans and rip em to shreds.
Other than the fact that theres about an hour to go.
Later, after everyone including the posted guards has
dozed off, Tara makes her move. She lifts Eddies infra-red equipment and sets off
into the bushes, carrying with her a flashlight and a photograph, which proves to have a
map of the island on the back of it. Told you she had a secret! However
its not the one I guessed. Cross another point off my score. The photograph
is of a middle-aged man with glasses and, by jolly! if he isnt wearing
a lab coat! And is that a rack of test-tubes I see in the background?
So it was Taras daddy who did all this. And Tara is,
unbeknownst to her, just about to have a Close Encounter with one of her fathers
other progeny when Brodie corners her, demanding to know what shes up to. She tells
him to mind his own business which, like Brodies Ominous Hints, serves to
keep the films less-than-brilliant plot stumbling along for a little while longer.
The next morning, the party sets out. Kelsey tries to take
along her "thousand dollar suitcase", ho, ho, ho! but Brodie puts paid to
that. And its now that Brodie glances at his watch, sees that weve
finally hit the halfway mark, and lets his companions, and the audience, in on whats
And I was wrong again! It wasnt an
Evil Guvmint Scheme at all! It was something even stupider! "The
Ultimate Game Reserve"!! (Hmm
. Im sorry, I suppose I shouldnt say
that. I do try to be sympathetic and understanding of other peoples past-times,
particularly in light of my own; but Im afraid the notion of killing for pleasure is
one Ive never been able to get my head around.) Catering to hunters with a great
deal of money, the island was illegally stocked with "black market animals". But
that wasnt enough. So the owners of this odd little commercial venture had an idea.
"They found a scientist" - (heh! told ya!) "who was able to
genetically enhance the animals to make them harder to hunt bigger, faster, more
vicious." Just one problem: to coin a cliché, the hunters became the hunted. (Go,
you genetically enhanced black market animals!! Eat em! Ha, ha! Eat em!!
.I just went Michael Moriarty all over!]) As for the baboons, well, they were
just "lab animals". But they "became insane with the desire to kill".
And then they escaped
All of which raises a rather fundamental question: why
havent these vicious, "insane" predators been killing off each other
Kovacs interrupts Brodies cheery recitation with the
news that (told ya!) the nervous boat captain has taken off and left them stranded. Davis,
Brodies words ringing in his ears, deigns to offer his colleague an oblique warning
about baboons that "might be dangerous", but does so in a way that encourages
Kovacs to simply laugh off the warning. Well, thats one lot of blood on your
hands, Scottie boy!
Suddenly, Brodie decides that the party is "too
vulnerable". He leads them across a river and into a rocky, canyon-like area which,
if there happened to be anyone or anything around with half a brain, would be the perfect
spot for an ambush. And speak of the devil! Whos that up on the edge? A minor
landslide starts, and the humans run further up the canyon. Sweaty Deutsch chooses this
moment of all others to try and talk Brodie into taking back his story of the night
before, promising him a "cut of the profits" if hell help with the sale of
the island. Well, so long, Deutsch. Next thing we know, the party is being pelted with
rocks. Panicking, the six humans immediately go in six different directions. Kelsey is
pursued through the bushes, ends up on a cliff edge over a river (uh, wasnt she in a
canyon a second ago?), and does her best Butch n Sundance impersonation. (Next
time we see her, shes pretty much back where she started. Interesting geography, old
San Miguel.) Tara is also chased through the bushes and, as she looks back at the apes,
brains herself on a tree-branch. In the process, she loses both her radio and her gun. The
latter is highlighted with a slow motion shot of the weapon arcing through the air,
underscoring the moments significance so its a bit surprising when Tara
simply picks the thing up and starts blazing away. She doesnt manage to hit
anything though, despite the apes sitting about three feet away from her; and when she
runs out of bullets, they close in
. Meanwhile, Sweaty Deutsch has been cornered,
and---well, lets just say its finally score one for Lyz!
Elsewhere, Brodie has caught up with Davis, while Eddie
collects Kelsey and leads her back to the men. Brodie starts berating everyone for their
stupidity (duh!) and lauding the apes intelligence. "They split us up!" he
shouts. "See? See what happened!?" (Which, if memory serves, was the
moment when I started giggling maniacally, while pronouncing, "I always credit my
enemy, no matter what he may be, with equal intelligence!" a line even more
insulting to that enemy here than it was when originally spoken.) And just to underscore
all of what has happened Brodie then hears Taras shots, and he takes
off on his own! Theres no sign of her, however (although weve seen her being
somewhat unconvincing dragged along by some forced perspective apes), and Brodie votes to
abandon her. Davis isnt having it, however, and another fight starts between the two
men, ending when Davis demands, "Is that what happened last time? Did you
leave your people?" and Brodie responds with a punch in the face. Reluctantly
admitting, "I know where she is!", Brodie then again splits the party up,
ordering Kelsey to stay with Eddie and taking off with Davis.
Meanwhile, Kovacs is having an unpleasant time on the
beach. Score two for Lyz! The apes also wreck all of his equipment, and the boats.
Brodie and Davis approach the cave in which Tara is being
held by the apes, and we see that the two men are doing a little bonding something
which with the male sex, or so I gather, always follows naturally from an act of physical
violence. Brodie gives the inevitable, "If Im not out in---" speech and
goes looking for Tara. He finds her easily enough, in a scene that I must say was a huge
disappointment to me. Id made up my mind by this stage that "Daddy" had
gone feral and was living with his "children" (just think of the
opportunities for "Superior to man in every way!" speeches); and that the reason
Tara hadnt been killed was either that the apes had been sent to "collect"
her, or that theyd sensed she was related to "Father". In fact, neither of
these scenarios pans out (we eventually gather that its "Daddy" who Brodie
has been having his gruesome flashbacks about), so why the hell didnt the
apes kill her!? Your guess is as good as mine
Anyhoo Brodie rescues Tara, who objects strenuously
when she sees hes about to blow up the cave and kill a great many apes.
"Theyre developing at an incredible rate!" she protests.
"Theyre nearly Neanderthal!" Uh, in the first place, all weve seen
these apes do is kill and caper in circles; I think Neanderthals were a little more
advanced than that. In the second place the hell - !? Shes a doctor,
not a biologist! Or an anthropologist! Brodie rightly ignores this peculiar
interlude, and rigs a hand grenade to go off after "ten seconds". And so he and
Tara escape, the film finally giving us the one thing its truly been missing
up until now: slow-motion action scenes
. (Man, Id like to get my hands on the
person who decided that "looked cool"
A few swift cuts, and the party makes it to the beach. As
they discover whats left of Kovacs, they also discover that the only way off
the island is an inflatable life-raft only big enough for two. Kelsey has hysterics here,
and in a scene thats an oddly convincing mixture of childishness and selfishness
(just how old is she supposed to be, anyhow?), she promises Davis that her father will
"make you rich anything you want!" if only he can arrange it so
shes one of the survivors. We then get one of the films stranger moments, as
Brodie pronounces that theyre all going to die and that
"theyll make it look like an accident, to protect their stock!" For one
bewildering moment, I thought he meant the apes; but then he added "Just like they
did ten years ago!", and I realised he meant the owners of the island (for whom
Sweaty Deutsch was presumably working). Not that this made it any less bewildering. Who were
these people, anyway? If they werent part of an Evil Guvmint Conspiracy, how
did they cover up what happened? What about the dead hunters? How could you possibly make
twenty or so deaths, in a short space of time, all look like accidents?
My brain hurts
Anyway, Brodie finally admits that the fenced and
barbed-wired structure he dismissed earlier as a "storage" area is really Mad
Scientist HQ. Duh! They enter the gates, and find they must traverse a broad area of
grassland. Naturally, they decide to split up, with the girls being told to "stay
here with Eddie". Eddie takes this as a hint to wander off on his own. The inevitable
happens, but he is not killed, merely fatally wounded (Ill hold off on adjusting my
score sheet). With Davis helping Eddie along, the four enter the central compound. Tara
finds something emblazoned with "Dr Charles Matthews". I guess our resident Mad
finally has a name. The four climb up into a communications tower. In between flashbacks,
jibes from the others about "leaving in an awful hurry" the last time and doing
a bit more manly bonding with Davis, Brodie manages to get the generator going. Meanwhile,
Tara has found Daddys office. On the desk, covered with about two inches of dirt, is
a tape recorder. Beside it, similarly decorated, is an audio tape. Miraculously (doubly
miraculously, considering that the tape player seems to run on batteries), it
plays. Sure enough, it contains the Last Memoir And Testament of Dr Charles Matthews.
Well, its been a long, stupid, and frequently
irritating journey, but were about to get the pay-off. I quote Dr Matthews
speech in full here, rather than breaking it up in the Immortal Dialogue section, simply
because its the kind of insane rant that movie scientists hardly ever get to do
Well that, and its unmitigated
"My peers in the profession informed me that it would
not be possible to breed animals to become more aggressive and predatory. They ostracised
me, and called me irresponsible- too radical banished me
from their lofty halls of learning, with a sign around my neck which read,
Extremist! And to them I have but one thing to say: being an extremist is the
only way to discover where the boundaries of what is possible truly lie. Clearly, my tests
show that there are no limits to what we could do here. Someone will
recognise that what I am doing here is Nobel Prize calibre work! And if they dont---
Ha, ha! Radical! They dont know what radical is! Ill
show them radical! Radical is their way of drawing a line between
themselves and what they cannot comprehend. They have no concept of the courage it takes
to tap into the primal fear of another living creature turn it into a force of fury
with one pure purpose: to survive at all costs! No bother with the social
order of the group! No bother with the thousands of needless minutiae that clutter up our
life! wife, children, family, friends
. Imagine the pureness in that!
By increasing the DNA strength in these animals, I have accelerated the breeding cycle to
a level that Nature itself would never have achieved! I have stared into the face of God!
and guess what? He blinked
Proving, if nothing else, that screenwriter Michael Thoma
saw Creator at some point in his no doubt misspent youth
Well, I was going to dissect all of that; but
frankly, Im not sure theres really any need, is there? Ill merely point
out simply because, being a scientist, I cant help myself that far
from being "radical" and "extremist" (Im not going to argue with
"irresponsible"), the idea of breeding animals for increased aggression is not
only possible, its done every day and without the need for "genetic
enhancement"! I mean, where do you think pit bull terriers get their sunny
good natures from? And then theres Dr Matthews dismissal of the need for
"social order", when Brodie has spent the whole film warning his companions of
the apes ability to organise themselves and work together. And oh, yeah just
what the heck is "DNA strength", anyway
As Davis gets communications working, Brodie wanders
outside, where he finds the shattered Tara crying. She confesses her woes to him,
explaining that she came to the island to find out if her mother had spoken the truth
about her father. She further tells Brodie that Dr Matthews didnt plan to stop at
experimenting on animals that he intended to use the village children as subjects
(because, you know, human beings arent nearly aggressive enough), giving them
"vaccine shots" that were really "a DNA boost". (Yyyeah, nice try, Mr
Thoma, but thats not exactly how this stuff works
And with that, Primal Force seems to run out of
stupidity, at least for a little while. What follows is a scene that is actually
well-written and, believe it or not, has some subtlety to it. (Rising to the occasion, Ron
Perlman finally stops idling in neutral.) Following Taras lead, Brodie begins to
bare his own soul about the past, revealing his memories of Matthews (motto: "If it
aint broke, lets fix it anyway"), and his confused feelings about the man
and his death ("Son of a bitch left me to live!"). He mourns "all
those people I left behind", and promises Tara that, although he couldnt save
the father, "I will save the daughter".
Okay, stupidity-break over! Back to business! Davis
manages to contact help, but just as he is about to give their location, the line goes
dead. Surprise! We then find ourselves in the grip of a concept that poisons far too many
modern science fiction films: the notion that "increased intelligence" somehow
equals "increased knowledge" as was the case with the sharks in Deep
Blue Sea, which suddenly "understood" what security cameras were. This
concept makes even less sense here, as the baboons have not been "enhanced" for
intelligence but, au contraire, aggression. Nevertheless, the animals
"understand" that Davis is calling for help; and "understand" also
that biting through the antenna will put paid to that.
The humans barricade themselves in as best they can, and
Brodie distributes guns, even giving a shotgun to poor Eddie, whos still bleeding
away in the back room. Davis and Brodie exchange more manly glances, and agree to
"put the girls in the back with Eddie". Brodie offers them a parting piece of
advice: dont fire unless its a kill-shot; words of wisdom that everyone
ignores except Eddie, who manages to save Taras life, and then carks it. YES!! I
mean, uh, how tragic. The apes start breaking in, and Brodie is almost dragged to his
doom, but Davis blasts away and sends several apes toppling from the tower. (The sight of
stunt people dressed in monkey suits leaping from the scaffolding is one of the
films highlights.) The humans survive the first wave, but at the cost of all their
ammo and Eddies life. Poor Eddie. Just as things seem most hopeless,
Brodie has a brainwave. The apes having obligingly withdrawn, the humans set a trap,
pouring out drums of gasoline beneath the communications tower, and drawing the apes up into
the tower by using as bait the voice of Dr Charles Matthews, and poor dead Eddie.
(Feh! Teach you to be a member of a minority race in a horror film, pal!) The
baboons fall for it, and Brodie shuts a security grid, trapping them; but just as Davis is
about to sling a lamp and touch off the inferno hes jumped from behind!!
And then things get really, really stupid, as first
Davis, then Brodie, has a fistfight with a baboon.
This is sincerely one of the most ludicrous invocations of
the Death Battle Exemption© I have ever seen. Even an ordinary
baboon could rip a human being limb from limb (reminds me
.must track down a copy of In
The Shadow Of Kilimanjaro
.), yet these gigantic, genetically enhanced, insane
killers cant wipe out two who are both exhausted and pre-injured!? But anyway
Davis is actually coming off second best, and is just about to spoil my scoresheet,
"Hey, you son of a bitch! Remember me?"
interrupts Brodie. "Cos I sure as hell remember you!"
And yes, the baboon drops the severely mauled Davis and
goes for Brodie. Brodie, however, pulls a knife, and after some very silly wrestling with
some no doubt hideously embarrassed stunt person, staggers away triumphant. But the other
apes are on the verge of escaping the trap. Brodie and David exchange the last of their
many, many manly glances, and decide to do what they gotta do. Screaming "Run!!"
at the girls (who have just kinda been standing around doing nothing much through all
this), Davis sets off the gasoline.
And maybe I was wrong about Kelsey having something going
with Davis. Or maybe shes just a very practical girl. Either way, she doesnt
wait to be asked twice. Tara does lodge a token protest, but as the gasoline goes up and
the tower comes down, the two girls head for the hills.
And the woods. And the canyon. And as dawn breaks, the
beach, where they find that two-person life-raft and drag it to the water. Ah, well,
hadnt counted on both men sacrificing themselves nobly, but I havent
done--- But wait! Whos that, staggering towards them? Yup, its Davis, who
despite his near-fatal mauling and consequent loss of blood, has somehow managed to outrun
the remaining baboons. The two girls stay right where they are, in the water, offering
helpful suggestions like, "Hurry!!" but (very sensibly) making no actual
effort to help. And yup again, the critically injured Davis out-sprints the genetically
enhanced killing machines (lucky for him the baboons seem to have forgotten they can swim
and is dragged into the inflatable raft, which fits three comfortably, after all. And we
get a final glimpse of Brodie as he breathes his last in the middle of the inferno; and
that means that he redeemed himself by sacrificing his life so that Kelsey,
Tara and Davis could get away!! And that means I WIN!! I win, I
win, I win, I--- I....I....I really need to get a life